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What Rep Sports Are Really Doing to Kids

By Courtney Shea, Today's Parent, 01/16/19, 12:00PM CST

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The early specialization model — defined as playing the same sport more than nine months a year to the exclusion of other sports before the age of 13 — first became popular following the 1956 Winter Olympics.

Each player on the Leaside Leafs displays an impressive amount of athletic ability and commitment to training. The members of this AAA baseball team (the highest division in Ontario youth baseball) practise three times a week in North Toronto and play games every weekend, with added tournaments and exhibitions throughout the summer.

Some of them cram in hitting or fielding or pitching clinics on the side to build their skills. Competition to make the team was fierce this year — 70 athletes were whittled down to 12 over a three-day tryout. There were tough decisions, tough breaks and even some tears. Which is not terribly surprising, given that this particular lineup of could-be Bautistas and Donaldsons is made up of 7-year-olds.